Creation of a health promotion office to fight obesity and poor mental health

A new health promotion office will be formed to tackle obesity and poor mental health, as lockdown restrictions are relaxed and the country recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday that it would be “essential to tackle the causes, not just the symptoms” of poor health, with the office expected to launch by the fall.

Modeled on programs such as the Singapore Health Promotion Council, the office will be tasked with tackling the major preventable risk factors causing death and ill health in England.

It will design policy across Whitehall and will be headed by an expert reporting to Health Secretary Matt Hancock and England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty.

There will be no new funding for the office, with its resources coming from the existing health budget, according to the Department of Health and Social Affairs (DHSC), where it will be based.

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The Prime Minister said: “The new Office of Health Promotion will be crucial in tackling the causes, not just the symptoms, of poor health and improving disease prevention.

“Covid-19 has demonstrated the importance of physical health in our ability to fight such diseases, and we must continue to help people lead healthy lives so that we can all better prevent and fight disease. “

The DHSC said about 80% of people’s health outcomes are not due to their health care but to broader preventable risk factors, such as diet, smoking and exercise, while the poor health of the working-age population costs the economy £ 100 billion a year. .

Mr Hancock said: “Better safe than sorry. By putting in place innovative prevention measures, we can help everyone live longer and healthier lives as we return to normalcy and relieve pressures from our NHS. “

Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said the new office “must be backed by the right investment”.

“The Covid crisis has brought to light the shocking inequalities that made us vulnerable and lacking in resilience when the pandemic struck,” the Labor MP added.

“Years of conservative governments have meant that gains in life expectancy have stalled and even declined for some of this country’s poorest even before the pandemic.

“The disproportionate impact of this virus on both the poorest and the black, Asian and ethnic minority communities must also be a wake-up call. “

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